Trainer Chad Brown is confident there are more good times to come with Newspaperofrecord after she landed the Just a Game Stakes at Belmont Park.
The filly was a hugely promising two-year-old in 2018, including a wide-margin success at the Breeders’ Cup, but things did not go her way last term.
Brown called her season to a halt early and the trainer feels she’s showing the benefits of that layoff now.
Newspaperofrecord’s wire-to-wire win in the $250,000 Just a Game Stakes ensured trainer Brown claimed the Grade 1 contest for the fourth year running.
All three of Newspaperofrecord’s career defeats came last season, resulting in trainer Brown showing foresight to give her an extended break.
Having ended her juvenile season with a romp in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, winning by more than six-lengths, there was no shortage of expectation last season, but that ended tamely.
She won the Intercontinental Stales on her comeback at the start of this month and now the Just a Game victory has cemented Brown’s belief that she is back on the upgrade after the disappointments of last year.
“It was mental more than physical [last season],” Brown said, “so we turned her out, we let her grow into herself.
“She looks great [now]. She’s grown a lot. She was a small filly at 2, wiry-looking, but she’s broadened out now. She’s relaxed in the morning, and the cutback in distance is part of the reason why she’s looking so good. We’re running her at the right distances.”
“I’m proud of her and proud of my staff for the job they have done with her. She’s training so comfortably. They brought her into the paddock looking magnificent.”
A Raving Beauty, Antonoe and Rushing Fall had all won the Just a Game Stakes for the Brown yard in recent times and the 41-year-old trainer admits it’s a joy to maintain that dominance of the fillies and mares Grade 1; while suggesting he’d like to train a winner for owner Peter Brant in the future given his connections to the great champion Just a Game.
Regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr had few problems on Newspaperofrecord at Belmont, holding off Beau Recall ahead of another Brown inmate, Uni, in third spot.
The jockey knows how key the role of her trainer has been in turning things around; Ortiz Jr saying: “Last year was a disappointment, but she’s come back the right way this year. She has a good trainer behind her.”
Connections may now begin planning at a return to the Breeders’ Cup this year, with the two-day extravaganza at Keeneland on November 6th and 7th.
Brown seems unlikely to tackle any trip beyond the mile with Newspaperofrecord going forward and the $2,000,000 TVG Mile on turf track could be amongst his targets now.